Lisa Harrod is the new Superintendent of Manteno Community School District No. 5 in Manteno, Illinois.
Harrod grew up on the South Side of Chicago in the Beverly area and attended St. Francis De Sales High School, where her father was the head football coach. From the time she was a little girl, Harrod knew that she wanted to go into education. Her parents were both teachers and instilled in her the importance of education and its potential to make a difference in a child's life.
She says, "I now understand just how right they were, and I always remember that every student you are fortunate to teach, you have the opportunity to make a positive and lasting impression."
Harrod attended Northern Illinois University, where she studied Communication Disorders/Speech and Language Pathology. She then went on to obtain two Master's Degrees from Chicago State University, one in Special Education and the second in Curriculum, Leadership, and Educational Foundations. She completed her coursework leading to certification for the superintendency at Western Illinois University.
She has years of experience, teaching all levels from pre-K through grade 12 and at the university level as an adjunct instructor. She was a speech therapist in the suburbs for two years and then taught special education classes as a resource specialist until pursuing an administrative position. In addition, she was Director of Special education in the Maywood-Melrose Park-Broadview School District #89. For the nine years before she became a superintendent is was an assistant superintendent in Steger School District 194.
The new superintendent of Manteno has had earned many accolades throughout her career. In 2008, she was awarded the Phi Delta Kappa International Emergent Leader award, and she received the Steger School District Distinguished Educator Award. In 2010, she was named the Chicago State University/Phi Delta Kappa Educator of the Year.
When asked about her professional honors, Harrod says, "I have learned that nothing is ever accomplished alone. I have been blessed with working with wonderful people in my career."
Harrod and her husband, Jason, have been married for nine years. The couple has three children, ages seven, five and seven months. The family moved to Manteno in 1998 when they were looking for a community with great schools where they could raise a family. According to Harrod, "There is nowhere else I would rather be. The community is so supportive and invested in our schools and that has always impressed me.”
While not working, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, reading, traveling and sports. She said, "I am a huge sports fan and most people know by now I love the White Sox, Blackhawks, Green Bay Packers, and University of Alabama Crimson Tide!"
INTERVIEW WITH LISA HARROD
How do you see today’s superintendent?
I believe that to be a successful superintendent today, you have to work on establishing a positive climate of trust and appreciation. The staff you are charged with leading must feel confident that they will be listened to. You have to work even harder to build relationships with all stakeholders.
Today’s superintendent should be well-versed in all aspects of the position. As a leader, you should be able to be speak effectively about everything from school finance to curriculum and instruction. You should not feel you have to be an expert on everything, just well-versed. You should also surround yourself with people who are experts and can help you develop a solid working knowledge of the topics. Trust those around you!
Today’s superintendent must possess the ability to remember what it was like to be in the classroom. To never lose sight of the reason we are doing what we do….to continuously improve the academic achievement of our students and open up every possible opportunity for them. When the paperwork and meetings start to stack up, my favorite place to visit or volunteer is the classroom…it helps me focus on the bigger picture! Enthusiasm and dedication spreads!
What new understandings or insights did you acquire after being on the job?
I have been in the position for one year, but was an assistant superintendent for 10 years previous to the superintendency. The insight that I would pass on is that you have to remain resilient. There will be ups and downs in everything you do. Nothing was ever accomplished without risk! If you know in your heart it is best for students and the community, sometimes the hardest decisions are the ones that lead to the biggest improvements across the district.
Please share an idea to use or something you’ve learned that might be helpful to a new superintendent?
Be visible! Whether it is at a sporting or music event, a classroom or a faculty meeting, visibility allows you to be continually in touch with those you lead. You can help to problem-solve and really get to know staff and students. To be able to hold this position but build relationships with the community is so important. If the community understands that the biggest investment we have is our children and their future, you can accomplish great things together!